SK on tear since changes to lineup

Even the smallest of changes can sometimes mean a world of difference.

And a change was in store for Eric Bergeson and his South Kitsap girls soccer team after starting the 2004 season with a very un-South Kitsap like 0-1-1 record.

“Sometimes you have to tinker with things,” Bergeson said. “There were things we needed to work out, both personal and soccer-wise.”

With just two pre-league games on the schedule, the Wolves had little time to fill in the holes left by the departed seniors who rang up a 16-3 season that included a 13-1 league mark, the Narrows League Bridge Division title and a spot in the Class 4A state playoffs.

But after a season-opening 1-0 loss to Mountain View and then an even more shocking 3-3 tie against Olympia, it was time to change.

Bergeson made changes to the defense first and switched a couple of offensive players around later. And the moves have seemed to do the trick as the Wolves have put together a 3-0-1 run, including a pair of lopsided league wins over Port Angeles and Bremerton this past week.

South is now 3-1-2 overall and 3-0-1 in league play, tied atop the standings with Gig Harbor, a team they tied last week.

If Bergeson, now in his third full season as the girls soccer coach, has just one coaching credo to live by, it’s always been build from the back. His teams, both boys and girls, have always succeeded on the play of the defensive back five and the changes he made last week re-enforced that motto.

“We wanted to get a little bit more speed in the midfield,” Bergeson said. “And maybe a little bit more power up top.”

By shifting defenders Terra Holler, Stephanie Milne, Lauren Kruzner and Kristine Siler around and letting Maria Smith rotate into that foursome from the bench, the Wolves have allowed just two goals in the last four games with goalie Alicia Cleaver picking up three shutouts.

“The whole defense just continues to jell and play tough,” Bergeson said. “(Alicia) definitely has tremendous pride in what she’s been doing back there (in goal). She’s grateful for the defense that helps her and they’re grateful for a goalkeeper who works as hard as she does.”

The moves may look subtle to most but have made a major difference in the way the team and the players have responded. Kruzner was moved from outside midfielder to marking back; Milne, the team’s vocal leader, has taken over the defense since moving to sweeper; Holler became the team’s stopper after playing outside mid last year and the beginning of this year; Siler has maintained her marking back position while Smith, who can play all four positions, will come in whenever needed, where ever she is needed.

“We were working toward an end result,” Bergeson said of the changes, “not just experimenting. We’re still trying to find the right combination and I feel like we are very close.”

The offensive move came Tuesday against Port Angeles, as Bergeson flipped Cassie Brown and Randee Robinson.

Robinson moved back to forward while Brown has taken over the mid field position.

And that move produced a 6-0 win with Brown handing out a couple of assists while Robinson scored two goals. Last year’s team leader in goals Nicole Bussman scored the game winner while Milne got a shot at some offensive playing time and took advantage by scoring her first goal of the season as did sophomores Kelsey Penn and Mikayla Shdo.

“For them to have just moved into those spots, they did a great job,” Bergeson said. “We have a strong message in our system that you need to play every position, you need to know the job of every position.”

South capped off the week with a 9-0 win at Bremerton Thursday night as the offensive onslaught continued. The Wolves led just 2-0 at halftime but scored seven goals in 21 minutes in the second half to stay atop the league.

Bussman scored four times, the second time in the last year she has done that against Bremerton, while Robinson got a hat trick with three goals. Brown and Shdo added goals in the rout. Sami Stanton and Erin Carpenter each had two assists in the game.

“We just continue sharing the ball,” Bergeson said. “And we’re using our speed to make things happen.”

The Wolves jump right back into action at Olympic Tuesday and play host to North Kitsap Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Marcus Whitman Junior High field."I think the team has done a nice job of working hard and putting in the time and preparation to be ready," Bergeson said. “I like where we are — we’re tied for first which always means you have your destiny in your own hands.”

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